ASUS Memo Pad 8 and Fonepad 8 available from Oct 10

Back in June when HardwareZone was busy reporting new announcements from Computex 2014, ASUS announced a grand total of 7 new tablets spanning across their Fonepad, Memo Pad and Transformer Pad series. Common among them is the Intel Atom processor of various SKUs that power each variant and it looks like ASUS is shaping up to be Intel's strongest supporter of their mobile initiative yet; even most of their Zenfone smartphones are powered by Intel.

Among them, the Memo Pad 8 was actually launched earlier, but it's only the entry-level variant that goes by the model number ME181.

Intel 'Mooefield' powered 64-bit quad-core tablets

Today, ASUS announced the availability of the speedier and more capable ME581CL that's powered by the Intel's latest 64-bit quad-core Atom 'Moorefield' processor. Originally slated to be equipped with the highest specced Intel Atom Z3580 (2.3GHz) part, the actual shipping Memo Pad 8 (ME581CL) will be equipped with a Z3560 (1.8GHz) quad-core processor.

While the earlier Memo Pad 8 (ME181) was also powered by a 64-bit quad-core Intel Atom processor, albeit even faster at 1.86GHz and also uses the low-power, high-performance 22nm Silvermont microarchitecture under the Bay Trail-T codename, the newer Memo Pad 8's Intel Moorefield processor builds on the maturity of this process technology and offers even more performance and power efficiency through Intel's new "Integrated Sensor Solution" that managers sensor data even when the device is in a low power state. Also most notable on the Moorefield class of Atom processors is a vastly better integrated GPU that's clocked 50 per cent higher than Bay Trail-T to support more graphically intensive applications/games which has been a key focus area of advancement to support mobile gaming in a strong way.

The new Fonepad 8 will also sport an Intel Atom 'Moorefield' processor, but a slower Z3530 quad-core processor whose burst frequency tops out at 1.33GHz.

What else is new about these new 8-inch tablets? We'll focus on each of the products to cover that next.

ASUS MeMO Pad 8 (ME581CL)

Apart from the newer processor, the more capable ME581CL variant of the Memo Pad 8 offers 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage with microSD expansion capability for another 64GB capacity, a Full HD IPS display (1,920 x 1,200 pixels) with 400 nits of brightness behind a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 tough glass and 4G LTE data connectivity (Cat 4 speeds for 150Mbps downlink and 50Mbps uplink throughput capability). This fares far more favourably than the older ME181 model that only has 1GB of RAM, a screen resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels and no SIM card for data connectivity.

Truly, the ME581CL is a premium 8-inch tablet in company's stable of tablets and to complement its status, it has a multi-layer coating made up of Non-Conductive Vacuum Metallization (NCVM) technology. This metallization technology is used by manufacturers to coat metallic-like textures on plastics used in electronics devices while maintaining radio frequency functionality of the internal antennas.

Further to that, ASUS has refined the physical traits of the new Memo Pad 8 with sleeker profile of just 7.45mm (as opposed to 8.3mm) and weighs just 299 grams (as opposed to 320 grams). When the Memo Pad 8 (ME581CL) was first announced at Computex, it was touted as the world's lightest 8-inch tablet, but it has since lost out to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and the recently announced Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact which weighs in at only 270 grams.

Interestingly, while positioned as a premium 8-inch tablet, it doesn't sport a stylus option. However, ASUS has mentioned that its capacitive touchscreen is capable of pen functionality by using any metal-tipped pen or lead pencil with a radius of 0.75mm or more. Dubbed the "Any Pen" function, this solves the problem of losing the default provided stylus of other tablets and opens the possibility of using common stationary that's readily available most of the time.

The other specs of the new Memo Pad 8 include Wireless 802.11ac support, NFC, 5-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front-facing camera, stereo speakers with SonicMaster technology and a 4000mAh battery that is claimed to last up to 9 hours of usage.

ASUS Fonepad 8 (FE380CG)

If you want phone call functionality, that's a feature that's exclusive only to the Fonepad series of tablets. The new Fonepad 8 is made available in the 8-inch form factor for the very first time (previously it took on the 6-inch and 7-inch form factors) and as iterated earlier, it will also sport an Intel Atom 'Moorefield' processor, but a slower Z3530 quad-core processor whose burst frequency tops out at 1.33GHz.

Among the highlights of the Fonepad 8 are its dual-SIM card slots for full phone functionality and supports 3G connectivity. Next up, ASUS boasts that it has the largest viewing area of any 8-inch tablet with 72.2 per cent screen-to-body ratio, which makes it have the same width as last year's Fonepad 7. Unfortunately to keep its price point affordable, it only has a HD resolution (1,280 x 800 pixels) display. Other features include ASUS SonicMaster audio with dual front-facing speakers, 5-megapixel rear cameras and 2-megapixel front-facing cameras- both of which feature f/2.8 aperture lenses.

Availability and Pricing

Both the ASUS Memo Pad 8 (ME581CL) and the Fonepad 8 will be available at ASUS branded stores and authorised retailers from 10th October for S$499 and $299 respectively. While the Fonepad 8 will build upon the existing Fonepad 7 LTE and the Fonepad 7 Dual SIM models in its series, the ASUS Memo Pad 8 (ME581CL) will immediately replace the earlier released Memo Pad 8 (ME181) and will be the only variant offered locally moving forward. Given the specs and the S$269 price point of the ME181 model and that of the new Fonepad 8, the latter is a better option that directly replaces its price point and positioning, plus it comes with phone and data connectivity.

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